Announcing Mini Fundraiser and Launch of Payment Kludge!

We are breaking from our usual practice of only one fundraiser a year to have a mini-event. We hope you are in a festive mood and will include this humble site in your holiday giving. When we launched our big event early, as in over Labor Day weekend, we said we might hold a second one at a more conventional time. We came up a bit short on our targets and are back to you to see if you can help us meet them now.

If you don’t need further entreaties to support breaking and important news from around the globe, in-depth and regularly ahead-of-the-curve analysis, witty and informative discussions, plus cute animal pictures, plantidotes, and now frequent reader-provided “songbook” entries, please go straight to the Tip Jar! Every donation helps!

As Sergey P said earlier this week:

Overall I have to say NC authors and community have been a great source of support during this war.

I have been reading the blog for some years now, and have not seen a better intellectual environment anywhere in the Internet. So when Shahed hit the fan so to speak — it was great to see that analysis and understanding of the whole affair among these wonderful people….does not contradict my intuitions.

From Bill Malcolm:

Honestly, if there is one nation on Earth intensely focused on its own navel to the exclusion of having any interest whatsoever in other countries and customs and peoples, the USA is that sad sack of a place. It’s why I read NC — at least, judging by comments, the 1% of America that actually has genuine interest in the world outside of US borders seems to be pleasantly over-represented here.

We have another reason for seeking your backing: We are announcing a near-term alternative to PayPal. We’ll soon explain our payments shaggy dog story and why were are using the Wise platform for international currency transfer on an interim basis. (If you are already a Wise user, head over to the Tip Jar so we can give you our coordinates.) The short version is some readers overseas could not donate due to PayPal obstacles (!!!). So if you are one of the readers PayPal shut out, your contribution will help close the shortfall.

Those of who are allergic to PayPal might also consider Wise…but checks are very much appreciated too (see the Tip Jar for where to send them).

In some key respects, we did very well in the fundraiser. Our average donation was way up from the year before. That confirmed that readers appreciate our relentless efforts to penetrate informational fog, particularly on the Russia/Ukraine conflict, America’s defense of its fading hegemony (blowback from sanctions, escalating with China) and Covid. Our long-standing depiction of crypto as prosecution futures has been borne out via serial collapses among exchanges and service providers, with far too much “money” having gone missing.

But the number of contributors was down! Was this due to the time of year, with not everyone yet in back to school mode? Worries over an October Surprise, market-wise or politically? The blocking of some non-US donors?

In the few short months since then, we hope you agree we’ve continued to perform at a high standard. Lambert made the correct election call, of a red ripple. We’ve hit our marks with kinetic and economic war coverage, Covid coverage, and in all likelihood even more China coverage. “That’s a lot,” as Dima of the YouTube Military Summary channel often says.

Since then, our new writers Conor and KLG have both added to the range of our coverage with high caliber, informative posts, Conor on politics and economics in power centers outside the US, KLG on practice and malpractice in science. Nick continues to cover the introduction of digital surveillance though payment systems, politics in Spain and Latin America, and banking train wrecks like Credit Suisse. Lambert sadly continues to bang his forehead on the desk over the CDC’s malfeasance.

So please head straight to the Tip Jar to top off our campaign for the upcoming year! We labor tirelessly to keep this vibrant community well informed, to hone our collective critical thinking and debate skills, as well as try to help maintain sanity. We think you’d be hard pressed to find another outlet that does as much as we do with such lean staffing. Help keep us punching above our weight by going to the Tip Jar and chipping in. Every donation, be it $5, $50, or $5,000, helps us make more trouble.

And now for our shaggy dog story:

Because we give the highest priority to generating new posts and then to participating in/minding the comments section, administrativia, even related to bringing in funds, too often falls by the wayside.

We have been trying to find an alternative to PayPal and have been repeatedly stymied. Wise is a kludge because it’s designed for remittances, not merchant payments. Not only do donors have to set up a Wise account (free but takes a bit of doing), but they then have to input information about us too. So there’s some friction. We hope to be replacing it with a more user-friendly solution.

It’s not just that PayPal has gone into the narrative enforcement business. It’s also that it has weird prohibitions on sending money in entirely upstanding countries like Japan:

Mind you, the error message makes it sound as PayPal was messing only with “this recipient” as in Naked Capitalism, as far as Japan donors were concerned. We called PayPal and they insisted that they had no restrictions for Naked Capitalism on any countries. Surely it was a block at the user’s bank.

It took four more calls, two of them with supervisors, pointing out that the Japan donation had been rejected before any customer, let alone bank, information had been entered, for a supervisor to ‘fess up that PayPal does indeed block donations from most countries in Asia, including Japan and India.

And then I recalled that it took PayPal a month to reconcile itself to the fact that we were taking donations but did not have a not-for-profit EIN.

We had wanted to add a new payment channel earlier, but the one that seemed the best in terms of probable long-term stability and fees acted like it didn’t want our business. As soon as we started to sign up, it wanted answers to a ton of questions, far in excess of what seemed reasonable for “Know Your Customer” purposes.

We’ve found that other providers that claim to let you get started in a few minutes have questions that don’t work for us. For instance, from Stripe:

We don’t sell goods or services so the query about timing of payment versus delivery completely misconstrues our relationship with our backers. You might say, just give any old response. But fudging an answer would be a violation of the customer service agreement, and would allow the processor to cut off service at any time.

Worse, I wasted time and got nowhere trying to get this issue resolved with customer service, which of course you cannot reach by phone. Despite explaining the issue clearly as “onboarding” and sending screenshots from the sign-up pages, the support staffer asked for more info….so she could find my Stripe account.

As payments expert Clive wrote:

I’m beginning to get a bit of a suspicion they don’t want the business — and this is a means of refusing to supply services without actually saying they won’t supply services. Denial of financial services on the basis of political affiliations is a hot topic (certainly here) right now and overt cancellations or not onboarding new customers because of their positions on political matters is increasingly problematic.

But there’s plenty of ways that financial services providers can persuade potential customers (or current customers) to go and find another supplier without blatantly closing their accounts or not accepting their applications. I can’t help but be reminded of the occasion when I was trying to open a bank account in Japan and I was asked to take and give them a photograph of me at the office where I was claiming to work — that being one of several increasingly bizarre requirements which I never saw listed anywhere in their account opening form…

The only way then, as perhaps is the situation here now, I was able to prevail was to make it clear I wasn’t going to go away, no matter how annoying they tried to be.

Bear in mind, I didn’t get far enough with Stripe for them to have the foggiest idea who I am. But their failure to allow for donations may amount to a bar on anything creative, let alone political or activist.

In the meantime, foreign contributors can e-mail us, as indicated in the Tip Jar, and we will give you our coordinates for a transfer via Wise. This is far from ideal but at least a step in a better direction.

So this fundraiser is particularly for those who wanted to give earlier and were stymied. We hope that the rest of you have a soft spot for Naked Capitalism and are in a generous frame of mind will chip in too. Just click on the Tip Jar link, and proceed from there. And early wishes for a great holiday!

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  1. bassmule

    Maybe I’m one of the fortunate few? Paypal doesn’t seem at all interested in me. Then again I try to follow the precepts of Donald Barthelme: “Our father was a man about whom nothing was known. Nothing is known about him still….He was not very interesting. A tree is more interesting. A suitcase is more interesting. A canned good is more interesting. When we sing the father hymn, we notice that he was not very interesting. The words of the hymn notice it. It is explictly commented upon, in the text.”

  2. dougie

    I doubled what I would have contributed otherwise because of the fact that you “cat people” have actually given a bit more attention to our canine friends recently. Just stirring the pot with my tongue firmly in cheek! Honestly, if I don’t read about it on NC, it does not exist in my world.

  3. dandyandy

    Just tried with PayPal and it worked!

    NC is the first thing I look at every morning. I wish I could contribute more but hey ho, maybe one day:)

    1. CenterOfGravity

      I recall from the open source programming community there is a donation provider named Liberapay:

      Liberapay is a platform for recurrent donations. It is maintained by a non-profit organization, also named Liberapay, registered in France.. The service does not charge a fee on donations aside from that required by the underlying payment processors, instead financing its own activity through donations handled by the service itself in the same way as donations to third-parties are handled.

      I ‘ve used it a few times to donate to F-Droid (android) related open-source developers. I believe it was also Stripe which processed those USD donations. Perhaps it may serve as a better pass-thru provider. Their ethos appears to very much be in the right place.

        1. diptherio

          I was unaware of that. Seems like a questionable decision for Liberapay to make, and one that is surely keeping people away.

          Another option you might check out is Open Collective, which is a platform for transparent funding and spending for organizations. We use if for, and have zero problems accepting money from people all over the world (including Japan and India).

        2. CenterOfGravity

          Memory suggests that it was possible to do a one-time donation, as I certainly do not have recurring payments to Liberapay happening. Worth investigating further.

  4. JBird4049

    Japan?? Informative post, but I am still back at where PayPal says it will not take payments for roughly half of humanity.

  5. The Rev Kev

    Just now made a donation but I may have to consider looking at Kludge. Last time I donated to NC during the fundraiser, PayPal basically held my account to ransom unless I coughed up a mobile number. When I went to donate just now, they demanded that I use a security code sent to my mobile in an extra two steps whereas before it was a matter of simply logging in, making a donation and then logging out. I suspect that PayPal just wants to harvest working mobile numbers for sale.

    1. Acacia

      Yeah, and it’s not just PP. Apple also tries to corral you into MFA every time you update anything, and Micro$oft now tries to hold your email hostage in the same way, which also has the effect of shutting out all other mail clients in the process. Really really hate this “MFA Hell” practice that is being pushed on everybody as “enhanced security”.

      1. Schtuff

        I deeply resent the assumption that I must have a mobile phone to be operating in the Western economic system.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Do I ever!!!!

          I had to get a smartphone because the 2G network is finally being phased out so my much beloved ancient Nokia would no longer work, and Justine Haupt is having production difficulties with her 4G rotary phone. But I use it only for calls, all location stuff is turned off, and it is discharged most of the time.

  6. Acacia

    Really appreciate all your hard work to provide excellent content and discussion at NC! Just sent a very modest sum to A.A.

    BTW, not to further comb the shag on the PayPal dog — I know they are becoming weirder and more arbitrary by the month —, but the Japan block might have a few more layers to it. FWIW, I have been able to use PayPal from Japan many times without trouble, with money from a USian bank. Dunno about trying a Japanese bank, and I’ve found that there are different restrictions on Japanese credit cards, so that might be an issue for PayPal. It’s also possible that since the account was not set up in Japan, it’s been sort of grandfathered. If so, a work-around might be possible with VPN, though online financial services in general tend to panic if your login IP suddenly jumps to another continent.

    I know y’all are against cryptos and I’m not proposing them as any sort of solution, but transfers without any narrative enforcement and weird prohibitions are their remit. If PayPal is going ‘woke’, so to speak, I hope some other firm will jump on that market opportunity.

  7. Ignacio

    I didn’t have any trouble with PayPal today to AA. By the way, I have seen minutes ago a train filled with light tanks on their way to Chamartin railway station in Madrid. First time I see this. Headed then to some place Northeast?

  8. Robert Hahl

    Another donation so soon? Sure why not, Social Security just said they will be sending me 8.7% more next year.

  9. hop2it

    Just donated what I can this season. A Big Thank you to Yves, Lambert, KLG et all. the guest authors & the well informed commentariat for being an ocean of sanity in these challenging times.

  10. Copeland

    “I’m beginning to get a bit of a suspicion they don’t want the business”

    This sounds like Amica Insurance Co. They insured our everything for 15 years in WA state. When we moved to OR and built a house, and we were almost ready to close (most here probably know how stressful closing can be, and everyone needs to do their job, especially your insurance company, or closing just isn’t going to happen). Despite countless hours on the phone over several weeks, they just couldn’t get it done. A local mom an pop outfit got it done in one hour. After we were in our house and the rage subsided, it occurred to me, they didn’t want our business any more…afraid of wildfire liability perhaps?

  11. The Heretic SJ

    Have you had any processing problems with PayPal when receiving donations from Canada?

    In 2005 God said ‘Let there be another Light’… and Naked capitalism was born.

  12. Jon

    Hi Yves,
    I sent you an email yesterday about payment processing but have been having some issues getting by spam filters recently since I don’t use one of the big companies. Just want to note it here in case you didn’t see it. Feel free to reach out.

  13. Keith Newman

    Naked Capitalism is my go-to source for news. Almost all the rest is a waste of time unless it’s the weather or traffic and I barely trust even those.
    I’ll be in the US toward the end of December, will get a US Postal Service money order for $200 and mail it to you then.
    By the way I dislike PayPal intensely but used it to successfully contribute to NC (from Canada) during the previous fundraiser.

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